Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Alligators and Crocodiles!

Laurence Pringle, Illustrations by Meryl He
Boyds Mills Press

Do you know the difference between alligators and crocodiles? Nor did I, until this book came along. Now I know that a crocodile's head is more narrow and its snout is more pointed that an alligator's. When crocodiles close their mouths, both upper and lower teeth are visible. In contrast, only the upper teeth show on an alligator's tightly closed mouth. And that's not all I learned ...

Crocodilians are a reptile group made up of crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gharials. The members of this group are alike in that they all have short legs, clawed feet, powerful tails and tough skin for protection. This book provides wonderful drawings and a short summary of twenty-one different crocodilians, so that the readers may note and compare the variations in size and shape.

Our foray into the reptile world begins with the behavior demonstrated by baby alligators. It is fascinating that the babies can communicate with their mother and mimic each other, even while inside their shells. Mother crocodilians help the babies hatch and then guard over them, providing loving care until they can become fierce crocodilians of their own right.

All crocodilians also have powerful jaw muscles, and a valve at the back of their mouth that closes underwater. This renders them airtight and able to remain underwater for more than an hour. This feature is particularly useful for feeding, as their practice is to drag their prey underwater to drown them.

This is just a an amazing source of information on these massive reptiles. Well organized information is teamed with full color illustrations, that make this a very attractive number. The only down side is it is just a little bit embarrassing for adults who discover how much they didn't know about these animals.

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